Tag Archives: RVing

Migration Home 2018 – Dodging Winter Weather Advisories.

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Misty carefully arranging herself to stay warm boon docking in a Fargo Flying J truck stop.

We left Sabetha and headed north. We were originally going to try for the Gretna Nebraska KOA between Lincoln and Omaha. We had breakfast at a Macdonalds and checked the forecast on the internet. The weather had turned nasty on us. South Dakota north of Sioux Falls and most of North Dakota was under a winter snow storm watch.  The forecast was for a foot of snow and freezing rain and zero visibility. South of the snow storm area, in Gretna area the forecast was for potential severe thunderstorms storms. We set the GPS to go for the North Sioux City KOA instead where we might finally get to experience thundersnow where the two systems met. We pulled into the North Sioux City KOA just as the rain started.

We had one minor problem. The check engine light came on again after we passed Omaha. Recalling the advice of the mechanic in Sabetha and the fact that the truck was running perfectly, we pushed on the last 150km to North Sioux City. We settled in loving a full service campsite with water, electric, sewer and excellent WIFI and cable. There are times when a full service KOA is the best and sitting out nasty weather is one of those times. The snow was cold and miserable and we didn’t get to experience thunder snow. That was farther south.

The next morning we woke up to a screaming forecast about how bad the roads were north of us so we decided to stay put another day. I tried the truck and lo and behold, no check engine light. I had spent some time reading up on the effects of bad gas and reading the bulletin the mechanic in Sabetha had told us about. Bad gas will cause the engine light to turn on but it will go off after some driving and an eight hour rest for the engine to move to a full retest next start up. If the bad gas has worked its way through the check engine light will go off and not come back on. I concluded it probably was bad gas, and we probably could have done without the valve change but it had not been too expensive, it should have been done anyway due to the bulletin, and it was done now so I felt good about that. We had no more issues with the check engine light the rest of the trip. That was a good thing because we had enough to cope with.

Fargo Map

We departed Sunday morning fretting about a forecast of low probability for freezing rain but ready to push on for Fargo. The roads were great, basically dry. Still, the sky had a funny heavy look as we got further north so we pulled into a rest stop with WIFI and I checked the forecast. I was horrified to find the slight chance of freezing rain had morphed into yet another full fledged winter weather advisory and by the radar, it would be race to see if we got into Fargo or got storm stayed somewhere on the interstate. As it was, we rolled into the Fargo Flying J with the wind howling and snow flying. We spent the night boon docking there and it was freezing cold even with the propane furnace going full speed. We don’t boondocks at a Flying J very often but it sure is nice to have such a stop when you need it and that is why we keep our Flying J reward card and buy their gas when we can.

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Misty arranging her toys to stay warm while we boondocked in a snow storm.

We awoke to more bad news at 7:00am. The storm system to the north had moved on but a new third system was just descending on Fargo from the southwest. We scrambled to get ready and drove out. We had to get five miles out of town to get ahead of this new foul weather system. We crept out of the truck stop and slipped and slid our way onto the interstate. The ramp down was ghastly. It took everything I had to keep us from going off the ramp. The interstate itself was just wet but visibility was very poor and we crept along at 40 mph until we got out of town. We were not being passed by anyone, the roads were that bad. I really appreciated our high quality Hankook winter tires and the truck’s four wheel drive for that few miles! One of the nice things about being in North Dakota is these folks know all about winter driving and know how to deal with snow and sleet. They slow down, way down, and actually drive to conditions so I felt safe and didn’t worry about a yahoo rear ending me.

By Grand Forks we had left this third storm behind so we had a nice breakfast at an iHop. Even though they had just had 12 inches of snow dumped on them the night before, the parking lot was cleared and the interstate was in good shape. North Dakotans know about snow and how to handle it. We continued north, stopping to fill up with gas in Drayton while we could take advantage of the much lower American prices one last time. We got to the border at Winkler and crossed easily with a cheerful welcome home. We made our usual joke about how amazing it is that they keep letting us back in to Canada. We then finished up our drive home. We got home two hours before dark and immediately switched back to stick house life. I winterized the trailer’s water system while hubby dearest moved stuff into the house. We were home!

Alonsa Map

 

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Migrations Home 2018 – Sabetha Kansas

Life throws you curves sometimes but an unexpected curve can lead to interesting and rewarding experiences. Our unexpected adventure began when we stopped for gas at a station south of Sabetha, Kansas. The wind was horrible and the trailer and truck were bucking and vibrating. We turned around in the gas station being buffeted by wind and filled up with gas. And the truck died. No power. It was just gasping and clunking and shaking like nothing we had ever experienced before. There is no more sickening feeling than having your truck die miles from home. I resisted the urge to cry and we shut the truck down and left it to sit for a few minutes. I said a few prayers. I started it again and it fired up like nothing had happened. We gingerly began our trip again and then just a few kilometres down the road the check engine light came on. I plugged in a search for FORD and the Aberle dealership popped up 16 km away in Sabetha. We rolled into the Sabetha at noon and the nice folks at Aberle promised to look our truck over at 1:00pm when everyone came back from lunch.

Sabetha Map

While we waited we decided to walk around the town and have a look. I have a special soft spot for small midwestern towns and Sabetha did not disappoint. The first thing that attracted us was a role call honouring all the veterans from the area going all the way back to the civil war. Midwest towns tend to produce far more than their fair share of soldiers and Sabetha was no exception.

After we had our first stroll about town we headed back to the Ford dealership. The mechanic and parts person told us the truck had checked out as perfectly fine. They guessed it had probably got a dose of bad gas. It might be fine once the crappy gas had worked its way through. However, they showed us a technical bulletin on a valve that sometimes goes on trucks of our type and year that results in the truck “having a hissy fit” (so technical a term!) each time you fill it with gas. They said the truck would probably be fine. They could clear the check engine light warning and we could go on our way. However, if the light came on again we should get the valve replaced.

I asked if they could just take care of the valve now. They said they would have to order the part. They could have it delivered the next morning. They opened at 7:00am and they could have the truck fixed by 8:00am. I asked if we could boondock overnight beside their garage. They seemed a bit surprised but immediately agreed. They even said they could run an extension cord from the garage to the trailer. We decided to stay and get the new valve, just in case. They were so nice. You don’t get that kind of service in a big city. They made sure we were safely parked, hooked to power and had WIFI and offered us a vehicle in case we needed it. We declined that. They told us all the good places to eat nearby. We settled in for an unexpected night in Sabetha. Because of Misty we ended up taking several walks. We met many of the townsfolk. Everyone was interested in us and why we were stopping in Sabetha. It was like being back home in Alonsa.

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We had a very pleasant evening taking long walks, a fine dinner at the Downtown Coffee restaurant and we settled in early. True to their word, by 8:00am we were back on the road and on our way to Sioux City with a new valve for under $175. The mechanic warned us again that if bad gas was involved we might have the engine light come on again and then we should stop and get the truck checked. This unexpected side trip turned out to be a wonderful learning experience meeting very nice people. Sabetha is a great little town well worth a visit. I hope we get back some day.

 

 

Migration Home 2018 – Big Hill Lake near Cherryvale Kansas

Big Hill Lake an Army Corps of Engineer campground that is one of the few campgrounds that is open year round this far north. The locals in the area came in and enhanced the campground by putting in sewer in about half the sites. The other thing the community did was add some lovely playground structure and a pavillion to enhance bird watching. The campground is on a major flyway north and teems with migrating birds of many species. We saw the rare and lovely red headed woodpecker, both blue and gray jays, numerous small sparrows and all night long we heard the hoot hoot of owls. On the drive into the campground the fields had large flocks of snow geese taking a break before heading north.

We had two days of peace and quiet. There were a few showers and the weather was cold and windy but it was still nice. Our neighbours told us the night before we arrived the temperature went from t-shirt weather to this heavy jacket cold overnight with severe storms and massive piles of hail. No surprise there. It is Kansas after all.

We had the nicest site up on a hill overlooking the lake. Our site was also specious with a big distance to the next campsite. There was no sign of spring blooming yet. They had done a lot of burning before our arrival so the whole place had a vague burnt smell. There is a really nice well marked path that follows the lake edge below the campsite. We enjoyed the exceptionally lovely early spring environs on the path. The trees are mixed oak, walnut and pine trees. I wish we could have been there in summer when the trees were green and full. Being an national site hubby dearest Passport America card meant we paid only $11/night. We stayed two nights. The day we left is was supposed to get warm and potentially stormy again so we moved north towards Nebraska.

We also explored the docks at the lake edge designed to make fishing easy. Dick and Misty were both fascinated by the fancy brickwork on the edge of the lake designed to reduce wave action damage.

 

Cherryvale Map

Migration Home 2018 – Cobb Ridge Recreation Area

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We arrived in Cobbs Ridge to discover ourselves in the midst of the biggest collection of dirt bikes and every other sort of all terrain vehicle I have ever seen. There were noisy two wheel motorized off road bikes of every size from big ones to tiny ones with little children riding. There were huge ones with fat tires and big and small quads in every colour and form. Cobb’s Ridge is criss crossed with miles and miles of trails for these Off Road Vehicles. We have encountered National Parks with themes before but this was our first ORV hangout.IMG_2296The campground was packed full and it looked like we would not be able to camp. Fortunately, they had one last electric site left. We rolled in to a delightfully low fee of $7.50 a night for an electric site. It was a lovely big campsite such as you commonly get in National Forests and we enjoyed it a lot. I was worried Misty might be frightened by all of this but she absolutely loved it. In fact, she chewed through her rope and set off on a Fred-style adventure which included bombing in on a family with eight (yes eight!) off leash Golden Retreivers. The greying matriarch of the group came bounding up leading the pack, snarling, hackles raised, and I was worried I was about to see my dog get mauled but Misty did a super polite “I’m just a harmless little puppy who wants to play” grovel in front of the matriarch. I could see the old lady’s hackles drop and then suddenly Misty was the centre of nice attention by all eight dogs and she was in heaven. We let them all have a sniffy butt session and some running and then Misty went back on the leash and she was led back home.

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We also found a disaster on arrival. It has happened in the past so I suppose I should have guessed but the rolling travel of route 125 had disagreed with our poor cat. He normally rides in our bed and never causes us a problem but sometimes in rolling hills….well the whole bed was a mess of cat vomit and pee and crap. Poor Klinger must had a terrible ride. My first job after arrival was to stripe the beds and drag out the washer and wash the bed linen. We were able to hang everything on our clothesline strung among the trees. It was while we were busy with clotheslines that Misty went off on her own adventure and I had to drop the clothespins and run after her. The linen was just dry before sunset.

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The rest of the day, while we washed and hung sheets, was a constant roaring of these vehicles. It was a tiny bit annoying but mostly it was great fun. After three days of quiet and earnest trout fisherman it was fun to watch these super active high speed bikers. The bikers were having so much fun. Many were popping wheelies and doing tricks. The little kids on the little bikes with watchful parents carefully supervising were so cute in their miniature safety gear. What a great place for a family into off road vehicles. I enjoyed seeing families having fun and I wished I could have transported my grandsons and all the equipment they could need to join us. It would have been such great fun.

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The TV was excellent in the new location and I watched an old cowboy movie and I relaxed. We both got a lot of writing done. On second day we took a long walk from the campground to a pavilion and discovered there were even more day trippers than campers. The hills echoed with the sound of off road vehicles. Everyone was happy and busy. We saw lots of riders doing complicated tricks. We saw whole brigades of quad riders out to have fun as well. Misty found the fast moving bikes intriguing and as each one passed she would lunge at them to try to follow. We did a little off leash walking when the air was quiet but it was never quiet for long.

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And once again we had a grand adventure though it was completely different from anything else we had done yet.

Cobbs Ridge Map

Migration Home 2018 – Ozarks/Mark Twain National Forest and the Rt 125 Ferry

 

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Arkansas side of the Ozarks

We left the Norfolk Lake hatchery and started north. We went back to Mountain Home and had a Macdonald’s big breakfast (without the meat) in order to catch up on the internet. It was nice to log in and find nothing was wrong back home and the world had continued turning without our presence. It had been sweet to be disconnected from the world for three wonderful days.

We left Mountain Home and drove to Route 125 and turned north. The drive was extremely challenging with many up and down hills and sharp curves. Although it was challenging is was a real pleasure to not be on the interstate and it was fun, even pulling the trailer. This route eventually pauses at the ferry and the Arkansas/Missouri border. This is the last public ferry in Arkansas. My husband and I have a special love and ferries and we take one every chance we get. This one was a nice small ferry and the whole trip was short but great fun.

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Arkansas Side of the Ozarks

We did not have a long wait and only one other RV traveled with us. Just as the ferry was about to pull out two more cars and a couple on a motorcycle joined us. It must have been so much fun to take all those curves and hills with a motorcycle. Misty was amazed to find the truck moving on the ferry even as we stood outside the truck. She spent the entire trip over the water with her head out the window taking the strange circumstance in and trying to process it with her doggy brain.

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Missouri side of the Ozarks

Migration Home 1028 – Dam Quarry Arkansas

Dam Quarry Arkansas is a lovely Army Corps of Engineer campsite located below the huge Norfolk Dam. At the foot of the dam is the meeting point of the Dry Run Creek and the dam spillway. The result is a charming small river with white water over shallow rapids and gravel sand bars and islands. It also happens to be perfect trout habitat. The area is full of trout and trout attract trout fishermen. Most of the people in the campground were there to go fly fishing. Every time we looked outside there were fly fishermen in waders trying their luck, sometimes a dozen or more.IMG_2091

The spring migration was also underway and several great blue heron was busy stuffing themselves before heading further north. The heron seemed to be having far more luck than the fly fishers. In addition to the dozen or so herons we were regularly serenaded by red breasted bluebirds. It was so nice to lie in bed in the morning and listen to the sweet song of bluebirds mingled with the trickling of the small river.

The campground was busy but we had the loveliest campsite up on the ridge. We could look over the river and up to the hills or up at this imposing dam. The weather was lovely. We could be outside without jackets so our first night we ate dinner on the picnic table. Everything about the spot was soothing on the nerves and I enjoyed it immensely. We watched the sun go down and as it got dark flying birds were replaced with flying bats. I like bats.

There were no particular trails in the area and everyone else wanted to go fishing so we decided to walk up the highway to the top of the dam and look down on our campsite from way up high. The road up was very steep with multiple loops. We cut across the hillside instead. It was a vigorous climb but we enjoyed it. There were signs around saying the area was restricted but we made sure to stay between the roadside and the restricted signs. Apparently we set off some kind of security alert anyway because at one point a helicopter flew up to where we were and came down really low to look us over. It then turned and went back. Dick had a walking stick and they especially looking him over so I suspect they were worried it was a firearm. Apparently they decided we were harmless because even though we made jokes about a bunch of police coming to arrest us, no one showed up. At the top of the dam we were able to go down to Norfolk lake on a boat ramp.

Misty was tired and thirsty and she really enjoyed it and took advantage of the lake to have a long drink and swim. We stayed right beside the road on the way back to avoid having the helicopter come and check us out again. We were delighted to find a bunch of small caves visible at the edge of the road. Perhaps that was where the bats roosted daytime. After learning all about local poisonous snakes we decided not to try to go into the caves and see how far they went.

One nice feature of the campsite is they had big individual showers so Dick and I went together to shower and we washed each other’s backs. There was abundant hot water and it felt like a real luxury to have a nice long unlimited shower after months of 6 gallons travel trailer tank. The grounds were mowed and we were able to take Misty for some long walks and let her off leash in the mowed area far from the highway and the campground. There were lots of dogs and children and

Misty made friends everywhere except for one couple. They had a small dog and decided Misty was a danger and they made a big deal of protecting their dog and acting like Misty was a ferocious wolf beast. This bothered Misty because after the first time we saw them, whenever we passed them she would bark at them and growl and rise her hackles. It’s hard for us to think of Misty as threatening but she can be. We took a long walk down to the river’s edge and Misty had another swim and a drink. We sat outside and watched another lovely golden sunset on the Arkansas hills.

The next morning our itinerary called for us to leave but the weather was sunny and lovely again after about four hours of rain overnight. We were so much enjoying the location that we went and paid for another day. I’m glad we did because the nearby fish hatchery truck arrived and dumped hundreds of trout into the river. This caused no end of excitement among the fishermen. For the rest of the day we were treated to happy excited fly fishermen pulling one trout after another out. We spent a quiet day relaxing and had a long afternoon nap and went to bed early after watching yet another lovely sunset. We left after the third night feeling sad and not really wanting to move on. But it was time. We were out of water and three days without contact with family and friends on the internet was long enough. We stopped into the Norfolk Lake Fish Hatchery to get a look on our way out.Dam Quarry

Migration Home 2018 – Reelfoot State Park Tennessee

Reelfoot State Park

Our trip to Reelfoot was a pleasant one. We took lovely side roads that gently rolled up and down and nary an interstate in site. We rolled into Reelfoot about 3:00pm. We arrived to a shock. Our campground was mostly empty and mostly underwater. The gate had a big sign saying “Area Closed” and the red bar was down. We drive to the interpretive centre. The nice lady there called back to the campground and we were assured that there were two campsites we could take. We were told to drive around the closed sign.

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True to the instructions we were soon settled into Site 39 well above the water line. The wind was ferocious and we watched big waves, like a gentle day on the Gulf Coast splashing up over the barriers. The flood water didn’t bother the birds at all. In fact several pairs of mallard ducks were happily splashing about in the nearby campsites and a great blue heron was fishing beside an RV’s electric post. We saw several blue birds and as the sun set flocks of hundreds of cormorants went overhead. It was cold overnight but not as cold as it had been.

During our day off between travels we went back to the interpretive centre. We saw historical information about the area. The lake was formed when the big earthquakes at the New Madrid fault caused so much upheaval. The bit of land we were on had risen 15 feet in a few shaking moments diverting the Mississippi and creating this huge shallow lake over what had once been a cypress forest.

The interpretive also had live animals on display. We saw live local snakes, both venomous and harmless. We saw owls and bald eagles that had been rescued and were being rehabilitated or who had been injured such that they could not be returned to the wild. We walked the quarter mile board walk that took us out over the lake. It is a strange shallow lake averaging about 5 feet in depth and yet or maybe because of it, it teems with life. The cypress trees had not put out there summer green but even so they were filled with birds, especially cardinals. The water was also full of life. In summer there are boat tours but they don’t begin until May so we had to forego that pleasure.

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Each coloured ribbon represents one known path of the Mississippi as it has meandered through history.

The next morning we awoke to sunny warm weather. I took a few minutes to wash down the damaged parts of the awning and cover the little holes that had been letting the rain through and reinforce some weakened spots with clear Gorilla tape top and bottom. I then cleaned out the gutter and removed a plug of tree debris. The forecast was for a nice two days followed by a night of rain at our next stop and I felt ready for it. We left Reelfoot with regret. If the weather had been nicer and we had more time it would have been fun to stay for a whole week.

The Mississippi is broad and demanding. There are only a few places with proper bridges over it so we had to backtrack south a bit before we could cross. We ended up following Rt412 across northern Arkansas. We turned south at Mountain Home to the town of Salesview and from there to the Army Corps of Engineer campsite called Dam Quarry where we were to spend the next three days.

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